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The Guinness World Record For The World's Biggest Ice Bath

Posted by Lydia Burdett

We know that people using Ice Baths has grown in popularity due to the amazing mental and physical benefits the cold water brings. Mark Hughes, Director of One Life Live It, who is a breathwork and cold-water exposure professional, decided it was about time to share his knowledge of the positive benefits of cold water for your mental health and what led him to achieve a Guinness World Record.

To set the record, at least 250 people must submerge themselves in icy water for at least three minutes simultaneously in baths that will be approximately 6 degrees or below. The Guinness World Record attempt took part on Leighton Beach, Western Australia where 575 participants entered to make history in being the first largest group to get in an ice bath. The outcome was that the Guinness World Record was set with results being 509, making it a world first! Participation on the day is $10, with all proceeds going to the Beyond Blue charity.

We caught up with Mark Hughes pre-event to find out the reasons behind this incredible achievement.

What made you want to create this incredible event?

Having used cold water immersion for many years myself and knowing the positive mental and physical benefits, we started introducing it to clients who we coach to help them change their physical state and mindset, from which we can help them change direction and break out of anxiety and depression.

In running fortnightly group ice baths, we have built a big community and saw the opportunity to create a lot of awareness around the benefits of the cold and the idea came up to stage a World first event to truly get the awareness out there. The rest is, almost, history!

Can you go in depth about the charity the event is raising money for and why it is so important to you?

Beyond Blue is the largest Australian mental health charity which enabled us to gain awareness instantly when we mention who we’re raising fund for.

While smaller organisations may benefit more, we had a single-minded vision to make raising awareness the focus; by default, everything needed to have the best visibility and possibility of enabling us to reach this goal. Personally, I have, in the past, struggled with crippling anxiety and depression and I now work with many people in similar positions, not least of all following covid or those that do fly-in-fly-out work. Beyond Blue provides a framework to help people in all areas of mental health, so we wanted to further help the awareness grow.

Cold water exposure, and breathwork, which we use regularly has been proven many times over in significant peer-reviewed studies to have a multitude of physical and mental health benefits, not least of all the incredible increase in dopamine (improves mood and sense of wellbeing) which lasts several hours after taking an ice bath. This alone can be enough for participants to ‘see’ a light at the end of the tunnel and help them focus on changing other aspects of their lives.

How many participants will/have be taking part?

We have 575 people – this was the maximum we could fit into the pools and with the ice supply available (nearly 3 tonnes of it!)

We want to highlight that the event has a low carbon footprint as the ice is made in a low carbon output facility and we are pumping water from the ocean, to drain back into the ocean, with the whole event’s remaining carbon footprint being offset through a donation to GreenFleet Australia, an organisation that plans native trees to offset household and commercial emissions.

Can you share with us any top tips for getting into ice baths and the benefits you have experienced?

Firstly, to focus on the outcome and know that the body will adapt to the cold and benefit tremendously, don’t let the mind take over and break the focus. Secondly, know that breathing is the key until you get used to the ice baths. After this initial ‘shock of the cold, turn to nasal breathing in for 3-4 seconds, breathing deeply into the belly, thus triggering the parasympathetic nervous system to start relaxing the body and slowing the heart rate. Make the exhale longer (6-7 seconds) through pursed lips; the exhale is the powerful bit. Try to relax and keep the focus on the breathing.

The benefits are substantial, but as a quick summary they include:

  • Regulating the nervous system (makes us adapt to stress and relax more easily)
  • Stimulates brown adipose tissue (this brown fat (good fat)) creates heat through a thermogenesis process burning glucose and fat molecules – our bodies adapt to the cold exposure and over time help increase metabolism and energy.
  • Helps regulate the lymphatic system.
  • Boosts your mood.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Relieves soreness in muscles and helps with muscle recovery in certain situations.
  • Improves deep sleep.

If you or someone else are looking to reach out for any help Beyond Blue are there for anyone suffering from mental health related issues.